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McStay: Mayo GAA needs a CEO


FAMILY TIES Kevin McStay is pictured at the launch of his bew book ‘The Pressure Game’ in the Great National Hotel Ballina last week with, left to right: his mother, Maidie, daughter Emma, and wife Verona. Pic: John O’Grady

Mike Finnerty

FORMER Mayo footballer Kevin McStay believes that Mayo GAA can only avoid becoming embroiled in disputes like the ongoing row with an International Supporters’ Foundation by appointing a full-time CEO and putting systems and structures in place that ‘are required for a multi-million pound business’.
Speaking in Ballina at the launch of his memoir, ‘The Pressure Game’, McStay was also critical of County Board officials for not dealing with recent claims made by the Mayo GAA International Supporters’ Foundation — who are currently withholding €250,000 in funds raised — ‘immediately’ as opposed to at a scheduled County Board meeting next Wednesday, October 16.
The well-known RTÉ broadcaster described seeing headlines about the dispute on the front page of a national newspaper as ‘shocking’ and said the ‘buck stopped’ with County Board chairman, Mike Connelly, who needed to ‘iron it out’.
Speaking to a large audience at his book launch last Thursday evening, McStay listed out a number of high-profile scandals and issues that had engulfed Mayo GAA over the last 30 years — from the controversial departures of Mayo senior managers like John O’Mahony (1990), Mickey Moran/John Morrison (2006), Pat Holmes/Noel Connelly (2015) and Stephen Rochford (2018); to the 2011 Strategic Review recommendations being ‘thrown into a bin’; to the stadium debt associated with the MacHale Park redevelopment; to the current claims being made about Mayo GAA’s alleged failings in terms of ‘governance and accountancy’.
Speaking on this week’s Mayo News Football Podcast, about what could be done to ensure that Mayo GAA don’t end up in similar situations in the future, McStay, said: “Appoint a full-time CEO, the Tom Reilly Commercial Manager appointment is a start; get the [Training] Centre of Excellence up and running; from what Liam McHale tells me the [Mayo GAA] Academy coaching is good and the quality of players is good; get club chairmen or secretaries attending [County Board meetings] as county board delegates.
“Just the approach we require for a multi-million pound business that is Mayo GAA in 2019,” he added. “The governance, transparency, accountability that’s required around running a business of that size has to be there. I would love to see that.”
McStay went on to say that he believed ‘the volunteer aspect’ was one of the main reasons why Mayo GAA was struggling to cope with the modern demands on County Boards from an administration and finance perspective.
“Mayo [GAA] over the last ten or 15 years has grown into a big, big brand. There’s a lot of money, a lot of organisation, a lot of administration, and we don’t have a full-time CEO. And I would say that is the number one thing, the absolute number one thing.
“You look at Dublin and John Costello [Dublin GAA, CEO]. What has he, 20 or 25 years of corporate memory? You never see these things happen in Dublin, they do their business properly and professionally.
“And he remembers how things are done and educates his staff accordingly.
“Whereas we change seats every so often and nothing seems to be joined up from any regime to the next regime. It’s like you just take it out and invent it all over again, and make the mistakes all over again.
“Accountability, we just don’t do it, for whatever reason,” continued McStay.
“They say they’re going to answer it [the claims by the Foundation] in the middle of the month [October 16]. This is a crisis, the middle of the month is two weeks away, this should be dealt with immediately. You can’t have things like your good name, your brand name, your rich tradition, your proud tradition. . . they’re not things to be flitted away.
‘We’ll get around to that, we’ll answer it in due course line by line’ or ‘I haven’t seen the letter’ when the whole country had seen the letter.
“You know this sort of nonsense, semantic nonsense.
“I know there are officers on that board who don’t even talk to each other, there’s no communication. Is that acceptable?” he said.
“And then you say, ‘well what do you do? They’re democratically elected’.
“No the chairman, the leaders, the people who are in charge of things, get people into a room and say, ‘This isn’t good enough, this isn’t going to continue. We can’t run a multi-million pound organisation like this and you’re going to have to step aside if this is your attitude’.
“This is how the game has to work, it can’t be just long finger, and we’ll just stumble on to the next crisis or whatever.
“And I know Mike Connelly is trying to do his best, but he’s the chairman and it stops with him. The same as when you’re the manager, and the buck stops with you for the football team. He needs to iron it out, he needs to get his board in line.
“It’s not good enough. What do you think Mayo men and women living in Dublin and around the country, and overseas, reading it online think? What do you think that does for the Mayo support or the Mayo brand to see stuff like that?
“The country is nearly laughing at us.
“And they say we’ll deal with that now in due course. Huge money, huge questions arising, and its just let drift along. Until these things are ironed out, we’re just going around in circles.”

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